Chapter 2: Search and Rescue Systems




I. Resources

PowerPoint slides, Chapter 2


II. Teaching Points


A. International Agreements (p. 10)

  1. The National Search and Rescue Committee (NSARC) is responsible for two documents: The U.S. National SAR Plan and the U.S. National SAR Supplement to the IAMSAR Manual


B. The IAMSAR Manual (p. 10)

  1. The International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual was developed jointly by ICAO and IMO to assist countries in meeting their obligations under certain international agreements.



  1. COSPAS-SARSAT is an international humanitarian SAR system. 
    1. Uses satellites to detect and locate emergency beacons carried by

                                                               i.      Ships (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons [EPIRBs])

                                                             ii.      Aircraft (Emergency Locator Transmitters [ELTs])

                                                            iii.      Individuals (Personal Locator Beacons [PLBs])

  1. The COSPAS system was developed by Russia.  The SARSAT system was developed jointly by the United States, Canada and France.  These four countries banded together in 1979 and the system became fully operational in 1984. 
  2. In the United States, this system is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  3. When a distress radio beacon (first element) is activated, the signal is received by a satellite (second element) and relayed to the nearest available ground terminal or Local User Terminal (LUT) (third element), which calculates the position from which the signal originated.
    1. This position is transmitted to a Mission Control Center (MCC) (fourth element) where it is joined with identification data and transmitted to the appropriate rescue coordination center (RCC) (fifth element) based on the geographic location of the beacon. 
    2. The RCC then notifies the appropriate SAR response organization(s).


D. U.S. National Search and Rescue Plan (NSP) (p. 13)

  1. The NSP was developed primarily to provide guidance to federal agencies who participate in the plan for coordinating civil SAR services to meet domestic needs and international commitments.


  1. NSARC is responsible for coordinating and improving federal involvement in civil SAR for the aeronautical, maritime, and land communities within the United States.


E. The National SAR Supplement (NSS) (p. 14)

  1. The U.S. National SAR Supplement (NSS) to the IAMSAR Manual is designed to serve as both a training and operational tool for civil SAR operations in the United States. 
    1. Very little in the NSS is mandatory because it is not intended to relieve SAR personnel of the need for initiative and sound judgment.


F. Comprehensive Emergency Management and Disaster Response (p. 15)

  1. National Response Plan (NRP) was created to align federal coordination structures, capabilities, and resources into a unified, all-discipline, and all-hazards approach to domestic incident management. 
    1. Published in November 2004


  1. There are 15 Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) in the NRP, which detail the missions, policies, structures, and responsibilities of federal agencies for coordinating resource and programmatic support to states, tribes, and other federal agencies or other jurisdictions during “Incidents of National Significance.”


  1. ESF #9 is Urban Search and Rescue. 


    1. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) serves as the lead agency for National Response Plan’s ESF-9. 
    2. At this time, there are 28 specially equipped and trained USAR task forces across the United States that can be requested to provide assistance at large-scale disasters.


  1. Local emergency management programs
    1. Responsible for providing overall pre-disaster planning and other programs such as training and exercises for natural and human-caused disasters that can affect a community. 
    2. Routine emergencies are daily situations faced by citizens and local emergency services personnel. 
    3. For example, when the county search and rescue team activates to locate a missing person, they are managing an emergency.  These responsibilities give rise to the phrase, “All SAR is local.”


  1. When local resources and capabilities have been exhausted, the next higher level of response (county, state, or federal) is activated.


G. Miscellaneous SAR Tools (p. 20)

  1. The AMBER Plan
    1. Voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies and broadcasters to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases.  AMBER refers to America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response
    2. Broadcasters use the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to air a description of the abducted child and suspected abductor.  This is the same concept used during severe weather emergencies.
  2. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
    1. Provides services nationwide for families and professionals in the prevention of abducted, endangered, and sexually exploited children


H. If My Child Is Missing: Advice from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children        (p. 21)

1. Three steps to take:

    1. Immediately search the house, checking closets and piles of laundry¾wherever a child may crawl or hide. Get everyone around to help, including neighbors. If you cannot find the child, immediately call local law enforcement.


    1. If in a store, immediately call law enforcement while notifying the store manager. Also, ask them to put an employee or someone responsible (immediately) at all exits to make sure the child does not exit (or is forcibly removed) without being seen.


    1. TEACH your children what to do when lost¾for example, Hug-A-Tree©, find an employee or police officer, and so forth.